Will Australia help or hinder climate talks our national climate interest Media Release

Nov 06, 2013 - 10:00am

The Coalition Government faces the first international test of its climate commitment at the Warsaw UN Climate Summit, The Climate Institute said today. In a new Policy Brief, it outlined issues determining whether the meeting will be a staging post or stumbling block for negotiations towards the international goal of avoiding 2°C warming. 

“The Government’s commitment to credible emission targets will be tested internationally for the first time at the climate talks in Warsaw, where nations will seek to progress efforts towards finalising a new binding agreement covering pollution commitments for all major emitters in 2015,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute. 

“While no major emission reduction decisions are expected, decisions on the timeline to advance new emission reduction targets and other actions, as well as the political dynamics the meeting creates, will determine whether Warsaw is a staging post or stumbling block on the path towards an ambitious climate agreement in 2015.” 

“The Government has continued to support the bipartisan range of 5 to 25 per cent reductions from 2000 levels by 2020. Other nations are aware that the Climate Change Authority last week described the 5 per cent target as inadequate, they will be keen to see how the Coalition’s proposed policy can achieve up to 25 per cent cuts.”

“If Australia does not deliver a credible domestic policy to match its commitments, it will undermine its ability to shape a treaty outcome consistent with our own national climate interest in avoiding 2 degree warming.”

Domestic action to limit carbon pollution and drive investment in low pollution technologies among key major emitters is insufficient but has accelerated in recent years, as outlined in the policy brief. Highlights this year include action in and between the United States and China. 

The brief outlines three potential outcomes for COP19:
  • One World: a clear timeline for enhanced pre-2020 actions and post 2020 targets through 2014 and early 2015 is established with sufficient assurances to vulnerable nations of long term financing support.
  • Old World: historic developed vs developing world conflicts (e.g. Kyoto II, financing) dominate and action timelines are vague and/or delayed.
  • Collapse: nations aggrieved by past processes refuse to accept agenda and block talks, or vulnerable nations walk out because of real or perceived inadequate support mechanisms to cope with unavoidable climate change.

Connor, who will attend the talks, said: “Recent weather extremes and bushfires highlight our national interest lies in shaping global action consistent with avoiding 2°C warming and its related intensification of such impacts.” 

“The Government’s current policy to undertake a major review of emission targets in 2015 is misaligned with international processes in train for countries to advance stronger 2020 commitments as early as April next year.” 

“Australia can contribute to a positive outcome by in Warsaw by clearly reiterating our commitment to reduce emissions by up to 25 per cent by 2020, supporting a clear process to advance new targets in 2014, and stating that we will undertake speedy ratification of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.”

The Climate Institute will post regular updates, tweets and resources relating to COP19 at www.climateinstitute.org.au/COP19.html

For more information

Kristina Stefanova, Communications Director, The Climate Institute, 02 8239 6299

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